Thursday, July 13, 2006

NLRB

What do we want? PEACE
When do we want it? NOW

Everywhere we go,
people want to know,
who we are,
and what we stand for,
so we tell them,
we're the union,
the mighty mighty union.

labor board,
you ain't right,
to take away the worker's rights.

Some very significant rulings are set to be made by the National Labor Relations Board in the days to come. The following blurb, from Jobs with Justice, describes the cases:
Have you ever showed a co-worker how to perform a task at work? Have you ever been asked to look over someone else's work? If so, the Bush appointed National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is poised to make a decision which could affect your right to join a union.

There are three cases currently pending at the NLRB that together are often referred to as the "Kentucky River" decisions. The three decisions will affect the way the term "supervisor" is interpreted by the Board. Their ruling could take away the right to form a union and bargain a contract from hundreds of thousands of workers.

In the upcoming decisions, skilled and experienced workers who give instructions to co-workers about how and when to perform certain tasks are particularly vulnerable to misclassification as supervisors. For example, registered nurses who tell nurses
aides to do certain things for particular patients and journeymen/building trades workers who direct other workers on a crew are at risk. If the NLRB agrees to alter the definition of "supervisor," nurses, construction workers, newspaper and
television employees, port workers and many others could be prohibited from forming unions. What's more, longtime union members could suddenly lose union representation when their contracts run out.

Meanwhile, the NLRB has refused to hear oral arguments on the cases - and has in fact heard no oral arguments, a fundamental part of any due process, since the Bush administration took office. In fact, the NLRB has already denied union requests to
hear oral arguments in these cases.

The threat to workers is real: In the past few years, the Bush NLRB has already stripped graduate research assistants and disabled employees of their right to form unions. And in 2004, the Department of Labor reclassified broad swaths of workers,
denying them the ability to receive overtime pay.
Today there was an action at the National Labor Relations Board, which as it happens is two blocks from my office. I forgot about the rally and was working at my desk when I heard voices from the street. Bullhorns meant business and the chants were rising upwards and outwards. Labor board it ain't right to take away the workers' rights. Labor board it ain't right to take away the workers' rights. Labor board it ain't right to take away the workers' rights. I was immediately reminded of the action. I zipped down the back stairs and joined in. I found myself in a phalanx with dozens of camouflage-shirt-wearing members of the UMWA, mineworkers. We joined the blue-shirted columns of teachers from the AFT. The green AFSCME horde was just marching down L street. Laborers were all around, and everyone meant business. Hundreds converged on the usually quiet NLRB building. Some of the NLRB's board members even came down to see the show. Bus drivers rode their horns, Cops saluted, Teamster truck drivers honked, construction workers waved, the people who make this city work were pissed. Hopefully this was all somewhat helpful.

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